LOS ANGELES – Homeless people will be allowed to sleep on Los Angeles sidewalks at night — if they do not block doors and driveways — under a settlement between the city and civil liberties advocates.
The deal means homeless people can sleep on sidewalks between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. if they are at least 10 feet from entrances to homes and businesses. It comes as downtown Los Angeles undergoes major redevelopment aimed at reducing blight and attracting more people after hours.
The settlement, approved by the City Council in closed session Tuesday, resolves a lawsuit filed in 2003 by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of six homeless people. It allows the city to enforce a 1968 law prohibiting sleeping on sidewalks once 1,250 housing units are built for the homeless.
City officials believe it will be at least three to five years before the units are finished.
A federal appeals court ruled in April 2006 that the law was unconstitutional and could not be enforced as long as there was a shortage of beds to accommodate the city's homeless population.
There are an estimated 48,000 homeless people in Los Angeles, and many congregate in downtown's crime-plagued Skid Row.
Meanwhile, New York officials said that starting Friday, the city will no longer automatically admit people who show up at homeless shelters after 5 p.m. if they already have been found ineligible for longer-term shelter. The policy change is meant to ease congestion in the shelters.
The number of families that arrived after 5 at one shelter in the Bronx more than doubled to 2,368 in August, compared with the same period last year.
A homeless advocacy group denounced the new policy, arguing that instead of helping to place the families in permanent housing, the city policy will force many homeless families to return to unsafe conditions.